Part of Weekend Classics
In 1915, married journalist and suffragist Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton) encounters leftist firebrand John Reed (Warren Beatty) at a lecture and is swept away by his passionate idealism. When she reluctantly strikes up a relationship with him and eventually joins Reed in New York’s Greenwich Village with its bustling, progressive art scene, the two become inseparable. However, tumultuous politics and Reed’s unflinching commitment to the cause force them apart for long stretches of time. As John reports on the burgeoning Bolshevik revolution, his work takes him further and further from Louise — and the two must balance their ideals with their love for one another in this epic historical romance.
Based on the lives of the real Bryant and Reed — who wrote his firsthand account of the rise of Russian communism in the much-lauded Ten Days That Shook the World — Beatty frames his reimagining with documentary interviews from the people who knew the couple. The film offers snapshots of the era’s political and artistic upheaval including foundational moments in the American labor movement — and features outstanding appearances by Jack Nicholson as a slimy Eugene O’Neil, novelist Jerzy Kosinski as Bolshevik leader Gregory Zinoviev, and the brilliant Maureen Stapelton who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her depiction of anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman.
While the film made quite an impact upon its initial release, a new 4K restoration gives us a chance to appreciate the earnest depiction of Keaton’s long-suffering, but rarely wavering partner to Beatty’s relentlessly obsessive radical.
“A stunningly successful application of a novelistic aesthetic — a film that makes full and thoughtful use of its three-and-a-half-hour length to develop characters, ideas, and motifs with a depth seldom seen in movies.” —Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader “For Beatty, REDS is his bravura turn. He got the idea, nurtured it for a decade, found the financing, wrote most of the script, produced, and directed and starred and still found enough artistic detachment to make his Reed into a flawed, fascinating enigma instead of a boring archetypal hero.” —Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times (1981) “REDS is an extraordinary film, a big romantic adventure movie, the best since David Lean's LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, as well as a commercial movie with a rare sense of history.” —Vincent Canby, New York Times (1981)